Posts from October 2011

Occupy This Blog (Week 3)

Mic check.

You know the deal. Join us here. What have you been up to this week? Write anything? Leave a link and a short description for your post in the comments. Or fire away about anything else you might want to talk about.

Letter to the Editor of the Opelika-Auburn News, October 10, 2011

Here’s a recent letter I wrote to the OA News in reply to the unpleasant Good Morning I got a couple weeks ago from their Oct. 10, 2011 isssue. When I picked up the morning paper, I was greeted with the following big-bold-black-letter headline on the top story:

ILLEGALS FEAR KIDS WILL BE STRANDED.

Well, that’s a fine how-do-you-do. The headline, racist-ass slur and all, was actually what the OA News chose to introduce this really heartbreaking AP story, which is actually a very important story about real human beings and their families, not bullshit ethno-legal statuses — and the human suffering that the state government’s recent apartheid bill[1] is causing — the kind of suffering that dehumanizing and authoritarian slurs like Illegals serves systematically to distract from and obliterate. Anyway, I would have put this up sooner, but publishing schedules at the Opelika-Auburn News Opinion/Letters page seem to have been a bit chaotic over the past few weeks; however, my guess is that at this point they are not likely to include the letter. They did include another letter on the same topic.

Charles Johnson
10 October 2011

Editor, Opelika-Auburn News:

I read the top story in Monday’s OA News (“Illegals fear kids will be stranded,” 10/10/2011) with mixed feelings. I’m glad you chose to highlight this important, heart-breaking issue. No child should be separated from her parents over a piece of government paper, and no parent should have to live with the fear that any traffic stop or chance encounter with police could separate them from their children. Political borders are not worth tearing apart families or throwing children into terrifying emergencies. When Scott Beason says “such concerns weren’t raised when legislators were considering the bill,” I’m sure he is telling the truth – I don’t doubt he never stopped to ask how his sadistic “Papers, Please” law might affect undocumented families, or their children. And I don’t doubt his colleagues in the state-house didn’t think to mention it to him. But their short-sightedness is a shame on them. It’s not a reason to act as if the problem does not exist.

However, while I think this is an vital issue for the OA News to discuss, I was saddened, and embarrassed, to see the top headline in my hometown paper refer to human beings with the dehumanizing and racially-charged slur “Illegals.” Actions may be legal or illegal, but people are not. Call them immigrants, undocumented families, parents without papers, our coworkers and neighbors. But they are not “illegals.” The i-word reduces human beings to their political status, and silences the real issues in the debate – whether existing immigration laws are even remotely fair or just in the first place. The i-word is offensive and divisive, and doesn’t belong in a newspaper headline any more than the n-word or any other ethnic slur. No human being is illegal.

Sincerely,
Charles W. Johnson
Auburn, Ala.

I wasn’t able to get it in the original draft of the letter — because of a 300-word limit — but now that I’m under no such constraints of length, I will also add that I’d hoped to close off the letter with a rhetorical question, wondering whether the OA News would publish a story with a headline describing the SNCC students as Illegal Customers or Harriet Tubman as an Illegal Freedwoman.

If you’re interested in asking them the same, or letting them know how you feel about racist-ass slurs in headlines, you can get in touch with the editor at:

Letters to the Editor
Opelika-Auburn News
P.O. Drawer 2208
Opelika, AL 36803

Or by e-mail to the Op-Ed page editor at jmcadory@oanow.com.[2]

See also.

  1. [1] Cf. GT 2007-12-17: International Apartheid in Roswell
  2. [2] Please keep in mind that the editor reading these letters is the op-ed page editor, not — as far as I know — the person who chose the front-page headline.

Occupy This Blog (Week 2)

Mic check.

You know the deal. Join us here. What have you been up to this week? Write anything? Leave a link and a short description for your post in the comments. Or fire away about anything else you might want to talk about.

Change You Can Believe In (Vol. III, No. 10)

From Adam Serwer, in Mother Jones (18 Oct 2011):

Barack Obama Deported More Immigrants This Year Than Any Other President in American History.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement announced Tuesday that it has reached a new record number of deportations for Fiscal Year 2011: 396,906 removals of unauthorized immigrants.

The numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Last year ICE miscounted the number of deportations, and the number was revised down to 387,790, still a record. Or at least it was a record, until today. ICE has previously stated it has the resources to deport about 400,000 people a year, which means that Tuesday’s number puts ICE around 3,000 people shy of the total number of people the agency says it has the capacity to deport.

… In the twisted bizarro world of Washington politics, media conventions have obliged journalists to report with equal “balance” the Republican claim that Obama is pursuing a policy of “backdoor amnesty” even as he racks up more deportations than any president ever before… . What you won’t hear about, however, is the human cost to the families, citizen and non-citizen, impacted by the sheer volume and efficiency of the Obama administraton’s immigration removal policy

— Adam Serwer, Open-Borders Obama Sets New Deportation Record, in Mother Jones (18 Oct 2011)

But of course once the U.S. government has stormed your home, locked you in a hellhole detention camp, separated you from your family, and cast you out thousands of miles from your home, they’re not really done with you. Because the United States government hardly stops at United States borders — our Progressive Peace President is a humanitarian and his campaign for peace, democracy and human rights will bring Hope and Change to you in whatever land you may be exiled to. For example, by forcing your former neighbors to subsidize governments that draft child soldiers and send them to kill you:

Barack Obama Forces U.S. Taxpayers To Subsidize Armies That Use Child Soldiers In Conflict Zones

President Barack Obama has decided to waive almost all the legally mandated penalties for countries that use child soldiers and provide those countries U.S. military assistance, just like he did last year.

The White House is expected to soon announce its decision to issue a series of waivers for the Child Soldiers Protection Act, a 2008 law that is meant to stop the United States from giving military aid to countries that recruit soldiers under the age of 15 and use them to fight wars. The administration has laid out a range of justifications for waiving penalties on Yemen, South Sudan, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all of which amount to a gutting of the law for the second year in a row.

… In a meeting with NGO representatives on Tuesday afternoon at the White House, State Department officials, led by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Dan Baer, explained this year’s reasons why the White House will continue to give military funding to countries that use child soldiers.[1]

Fo r South Sudan, State Department officials argued that since the country didn’t exist when the latest report on child soldier abuse came out, that country doesn’t fall under the law. Their reasoning is that the report in question, known as the 2011 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, came out June 27. South Sudan was declared independent 12 days later on July 9. They will receive $100 million in U.S. military aid this year.

“South Sudan may be a new country, but it’s not a blank slate here,” one attendee at the White House meeting told The Cable. “There’s been two decades of child soldier use and unfulfilled promises by the [Sudan People’s Liberation Army].”

For Yemen, the administration’s argument is simply that counterterrorism cooperation with that country is too important to suspend. Yemen is set to receive $35 million from the United States in foreign military financing. What stunned activists in the room, however, was State Department officials’ admission that they don’t know who actually controls the Yemeni military these days.

“The officials said, ‘We don’t even know day by day who we’re even talking to,’” one attendee reported.

— Josh Rogin, Obama waives penalties on countries that employ child soldiers — again! in Foreign Policy: The Cable (4 October 2011)

But I am sure that their collaboration is vital to defeating terror and safeguarding human rights throughout the world. Whoever the hell they are.

Oh well, close enough for government work, anyway. The more things Change….

See also.

  1. [1] Sic. Actually the announcement from Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Dan Baer — since the White House has nothing to give and countries don’t use soldiers, is that the White House will continue forcing U.S. taxpayers to give multimillion-dollar subsidies to war criminals.

Occupy This Blog

(a/k/a the return of Shameless Self-promotion Sunday.)

I am stuck in the house more or less all day today with some maddening paperwork to finish by the end of the weekend, and a development workstation that is currently non-operational and (therefore) effectively blocking any serious development work from moving forward. So my own activity is going to be kind of sparse for the moment, while I try to get this clusterfrak sorted out. But it’s Sunday, and if that means anything, it means Shamelessness. So consider this your mic check. What’s going on your end? What have you been up to this week? Write anything? Leave a link and a short description for your post in the comments. Or fire away about anything else you might want to talk about.